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Why is Mental Health Important?
Individuals who are mentally healthy are able to cope with the normal stresses of life. These stresses do not impact their ability to work productively, make contributions to the community, and built and maintain healthy relationships.
Conversely, a mental health disorder or mental illness impacts a person's ability to function. The person's thinking, behavior, and emotions are affected, and the illness disrupts their ability to carry out daily activities like attend work/school, or engage in satisfying relationships - Youth Mental Health First Aid Course.
Mental health conditions impact a large number of youth. Statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) demonstrate the importance of this topic. Some statistics shared in this infographic are:
- 1 in 6 year aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
- 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
- The average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is 11 years.
- High school students who experience significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers.
- Students aged 6-17 with a mental, emotional or behavioral concern are three times more likely to repeat a grade.
In the 2021 national data, suicide is the second leading case of death for youth 10 to 14 years old. In Iowa the data is even more alarming. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 5 to 44 years old.Back to top
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)
Adverse Childhood Experiences, more commonly known as ACEs, are stressful or traumatic events experienced during childhood. Research shows these events impact brain development, and are related to health problems throughout the lifespan.
Resources and information on the impact of early experiences on brain development:Back to top
Resilience is the ability to thrive, adapt, and cope despite tough times. It is the ability to overcome and, in some cases, benefit from challenging experiences. Both staff and students benefit from the ability to bounce back from challenges with new learning and strength.
Caring Adult-Student Relationships
It is important to note the critical role that caring adult-student relationship play in the positive development of youth. Youth with at least one caring committed adult relationship are more likely to flourish and become productive adults, including:
- Participation in after-school activities
- Staying calm and controlled when faced with challenges
- Feeling less sad and depressed
- Less likely to report experiencing bullying
- Caring Adults: Important for Positive Child Well-Being
- How Kids Learn Resilience
- Fostering Resilience
- From Risk to Resiliency: What Schools Can Do
- Resiliency in Action
- How Teachers Can Build Emotional Resilience
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress, thoughts of suicide, substance use crisis or any other kind of emotional distress.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who need support:
- Dial 988, when prompted select "ASL Now," and follow the prompts
- Visit 988lifeline.org and select "For Deaf & Hard of Hearing" link
Text "HOPELINE" to 741741 or go to https://centerforsuicideawareness.org/ for 24/7 free trained crisis counselors.
SAMHSA's National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
The Trevor Lifeline
1-866-581-8111 (call 24/7)
855-895-TEXT(8398) (text 2pm-10pm)
An Iowa resource that provides 24/7 support via phone call, and support via text from 2-10 p.m. daily.Back to top
Youth Mental Health First Aid
Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8-hour course designed to teach parents, family members, teachers, school staff, neighbors, and other caring adults about (1) the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, (2) the importance of early intervention, and (3) how to help an adolescent experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. The course is focused on information participants can use to help youth ages 12-18. YMHFA can be taught in one 8-hour day or two 4-hour days.
For more information on how your district or organization can receive training in YMHFA contact:
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
More resources and information:
- Iowa Department of Public Health: Suicide Prevention Priorities
- Iowa Plan for Suicide Prevention
- Iowa Talk Force Report: Suicide Prevention and Trauma-Informed Care
- Your Life Iowa
Suicide toolkits for schools:
- After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools
- Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
- Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention
Resources about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why:
- A Teachable Moment: using 13 Reasons Why to Initiate a Helpful Conversation about Suicide Prevention and Mental Health (AFSP/ASCA/NASP) (Webinar)
- Tips for Parents for Talking with their Children about 13 Reasons Why and Suicide (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
- Briefing in Connection with the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why (International Association for Suicide Prevention)
- 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (The Jed Foundation/Suicide Awareness Voices of Education)
- 13 Reasons Why Netflix Series: How School Counselors Can Help (American School Counselor Association)
- 13 Reasons Why Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)
- 13 Ways to Continue the Conversation about 13 Reasons Why (Active Minds)
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A trauma-sensitive school is a safe and respectful environment that enables student to build caring relationships with adults and peers, self-regulate their emotions and behaviors, and succeed academically, while supporting their physical health and well-being.
- Trauma-Sensitive School Checklist
- Trauma-Sensitive School Learning Modules*
- Review Tool for School Policies, Procedures, and Documents: Examination through a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) Lens*
- Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Trauma-Informed Approach and Trauma-Specific interventions
- Trauma-Sensitive School Checklist
- Using PBIS to Help Schools Become More Trauma-Sensitive*
- Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators
- Strategies and Resources to Create a Trauma-Sensitive School*
- The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success
- Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package
* Resources created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.Back to top
Resources & Information
- School Mental Health Referral Pathways (SMHRP) Toolkit
- Children's Mental Health Disorder Fact Sheet for the Classroom
- Digital Shareables on Child and Adolescent Mental Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Youth Mental Health First Aider Resource List